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My Betta’s fin is turning white and disintegrating


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#1 ThatGuy

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:51 AM

I don’t know much about Bettas or aquariums in general. I was given a Betta as a birthday present, so my only knowledge comes from caring for him over the last few years, plus a little reading of the internet.

My Betta’s dorsal fin is disintegrating with a sort of white rot. I first noticed a small white rotting area along part of the top edge of his dorsal fin a couple of months ago, and assumed it would heal over time. Instead it has slowly been growing and I didn’t notice how bad it was until the fin was almost half gone.

I have also noticed a discolouration of the fin itself immediately below the white rot, which may be related. It is a section of fin that has turned darker and less reflective. It is also opaque to light, which is noticeable when the fin is lit from behind. Looking through my collection of photos, this dark patch was first visible over six months before the white rot appeared, and has been slowly growing over time, and now extends below the base of the fin into the body

Meet Dexter:
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This photo was taken on 24/06/2010. He was apparently healthy at this time, but the first signs of discolouration at the top of his dorsal fin are visible. I have highlighted the affected area in this copy:
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Three months later, the discoloured area has extended further down the fin:
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Five months later, the white rot is first visible, and the discolouration has extended into the body, visible as a black area (not a good picture, but it's all I had):
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This is Dexter as he appears today, one and a half months later:
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A close up of the white rotting area:
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An exposed bone-like structure is visible in the above picture. This is Dexter lit from behind, showing the opaque nature of the dark patch:
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And finally, this is happy Dexter from one and a half years ago:
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Dexter currently lives in a small 20L tank with a couple of plants. It includes a 25W heater set to 26°C and a small 13W fluorescent light above the tank, but no filter. The water quality should be excellent, since he is the only thing living in the tank, there are living plants to absorb ammonia and nitrates, and because I do a 20% water change every few days. Using an API master test kit I have never measured ammonia, nitrite or nitrates above zero. The pH is stable at around 7.5. Carbonate hardness is around 6dKH, and general hardness is around 1dGH.

The only thing that has changed recently is I started using a 7.0 pH buffer around six months ago. This is long before the white disintegration of the fin first appeared, but after the discolouration of the fin was first visible. This was to keep the pH from fluctuating over the course of the day from photosynthesis of the plants. I had previously been using bicarbonate soda, but this raised the pH to a constant 8.2, which I thought was too high, so I switched to using an off the shelf pH buffer. I’m using a local Australian product called “Aqua-Pics kH Powder +7.0”, which doesn’t include any information on what ingredients it uses except for “with added potassium”.

There is also an oil slick like coating that forms on the surface of the water. This has only been noticed since I started using the pH buffer, so it may be related. However, I have had oil slicks at various times in the past, so I am unsure of the cause. I remove it every few days by slowly decanting water into a jug (this is where the regular 20% water changes come from), but by the end of the day the slick has always returned.

So if anyone can help me identify and treat this rotting area on his fin, it would be much appreciated.

#2 Stars

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 01:30 PM

Welcome to UB :)

Judging from the photo, its just a bacteria infection that is causing fin and partial body rot. He could have got it from a a wide range of ways but mostly likely something stressed him (ie. being added to a new tank, a sudden lower of of the pH, etc) or he might have ripped/torn his fin giving the bacteria a chance.

Finrot a very easy to treat, because you are in Australia, I don't know if you have access to certain medication. But what is the most effective in treating bacteria as far as I know is API's Furan-2 or API's Triple Sulfa. Maracyn II and Maracyn I can be effective.

If you can't find any of these medication, go to your local petstore and look for an anti-bacteria containing Nitrofurazone and/or Furazolidone as its first 3 ingredient. You can also look for medication contaning Minocycline or Acriflavine as its first 3, they are just as effective. The raw version of these medication work just as well but use with cation when dosing, do not mix any of them unless you know they will not interact with each other negatively.

Bump the temperature to 80F and feed some frozen insects like thawed brineshrimp, glassworms and etc that can be found at the frozen section of fish stores. The boost of fresh nutrition and protein will aid him in healing. Best of luck. :fingerscrossed:

#3 sammisweet

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 07:58 PM

I'm also currently in Australia (Sydney, to be specific) and am treating a sick fish for bacterial infection (not fin rot). I started treating with Tetracycline with no effect over three days (and further degeneration) so yesterday I went to my aquarium place and had a good consultation with one of the guys there who recommended another product called "Bactonex".


"Bactonex" is Australian-made so you should be able to find it around. It has \aminacrine hydrochloride and methylene blue for additives and was recommended by the guy because he said it shouldn't be too rough on my Betta like other pure antibacterial stuff. My fish has shown improvement in the 24hr since use, including appetite.

Good luck :)

Edited by sammisweet, 09 April 2011 - 08:02 PM.


#4 ThatGuy

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 11:54 AM

Thanks for the help.

My Betta has had fin rot before, but I thought this was something else. I already have some medication which I used to sucessfully treat his earlier case of fin rot called "Multi Cure". It is designed to treat both bacterial and fungal infections and consists of 0.4g/L Methylene blue, 0.425g/L Malachite green and 2g/L Acriflavine. Should I use this or would I be better off using a more specific anti-bacterial medication? It is also a year past its use by date, I don't know if this would be an issue.

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 04:21 PM

Thanks for the help.

My Betta has had fin rot before, but I thought this was something else. I already have some medication which I used to sucessfully treat his earlier case of fin rot called "Multi Cure". It is designed to treat both bacterial and fungal infections and consists of 0.4g/L Methylene blue, 0.425g/L Malachite green and 2g/L Acriflavine. Should I use this or would I be better off using a more specific anti-bacterial medication? It is also a year past its use by date, I don't know if this would be an issue.


The content sounds fine. Get other bottle, chemicals over time can degrade and will become toxic or useless.




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